I am a first-time Cannes Lions Judge. I’m thrilled to be one of the chosen carrying the flag here for Canada. As Terry Savage, CEO of Cannes Lions put it,”Your role here is very important. Marketers are hanging by their fingernails to hear your results. Careers swing on this.”
I am a member of the Promotions and Activations Jury. When I met Sir John Hegarty last month at Future Flash, he confided in me his envy. “It’s one of the most innovative categories these days.” He is judging television and had spent the last several weeks pre-judging. His eyeballs looked screen-shaped.
In my category there are over 3,000 entries. The first few days are spent without debate, each judge privately assigning a mark from 1 to 9 on their personal tablet. To have a chance at even making the shortlist you must score 4 or higher. Rob Schwartz, the Creative President of TBWA/Worldwide, heads up my jury. His directions were clear: recognize only the work you wished you’d done. The work that makes you feel something. We were also warned to flag “scam work” early in the judging. It’s not a witch-hunt by any means, but no one wants to discover a plagiarized idea twoThe Leisurely Pace of Judging Yesterday we judged for 17 hours. I got in at 2:45 am. I will file later today. It’s crazy here. hours before the Grand Prix. We were also cautioned against “patriotic voting” – whether it be by nation or network, the system flags it. If we are judging much higher or much lower than fellow judges, we will also be flagged. And so it begins.
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Judging the Judges
Many wonder how one gets chosen to be a Cannes judge. You have to run the gauntlet and it’s not for the faint of heart. Looking around at the various juries here, I see that the median age is probably mid- to late 40s. Here’s why. The process goes like this: you have to be nominated by a group of Canadians who are affiliated with the Cannes Lions. Then you make your submission. Your submission must include your biography, the work you are most proud of, your picture, and a list of shows you have previously judged … plus a list of the awards you’ve personally won. And by the way, if you haven’t won at Cannes before, you cannot judge it. So before the judges get to judge, they are judged. Ah, the circle is complete.
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The Leisurely Pace of Judging
Yesterday we judged for 17 hours. I got in at 2:45 am. I will file later today. It’s crazy here.
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Freed from the Velvet Prison
After 17 hours of deliberation, eight bottles of Evian and and fuelled by late night sushi we arrived at the Grand Prix winner, and were freed from our meeting room. it was unanimous: "Immortal Fans" by Sport Club Recife by Ogilvy in Sao Paulo. This extraordinary campaign compelled fans to sign up for organ donation (Brazil has one of the lowest rates in the world) so they could continue to be fans, even in their afterlife. It pulled at the heart strings– quite literally–and was wildly successful. Go look at it. Fabulous. Organ donation is an issue in Canada too. Hey, can someone talk to the Leafs, please?
Back to the Croissette. This time in search of Lee Clow or Lou Reed. Whoever comes first.
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Smartphones Should be Called Genius Phones
Our smartphones have become our computers, cameras, alarm clocks – the list goes on. There are now over a billion mobile users around the globe. To illustrate the point of how ubiquitous they’ve become, Rei Inamoto of AKQA had us turn on our phones and raise them in the darkened Palais, in Cannes. The hall glowed with thousands of pinpoints of light. It mirrored yesteryear’s brandishing of the lighter, concert-style. It was a remarkable demonstration to kick off the Mobile Lions. In China, kidnapping of children is an issue. An app that uses facial recognition to help locate missing children picked up a Lion. As did Score Cleaner Notes, an app that translates singing or humming into sheet music. Silver Line recycles and refurbishes smartphones for the elderly so they have effortless, simplified links to healthcare and transportation. They can even order groceries and have them delivered. Just three more reasons to love mobile.
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Vending Machines That Dispense Gold
Vending machines rocked this year. From the super skinny version that dispensed Diet Coke to the two-way mirror Coke vending machine simultaneously placed in Pakistan and India to “encourage togetherness”, modified vending machines were very much in presence. The “pulse machine” by Iron Age had a sensor that measured your heartrate. The higher your pulse the bigger your discount for your gym membership. A Hellman’s vending machine with a casino-like sensibility resided in grocery stores and dispensed recipes, or jars of Hellman’s and if you “won," a cooked sample.
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The Importance of Looking Backwards
One of the things Sir John Hegarty finds troubling about advertising these days is its reluctance to look back to learn. Ours is a culture that lionizes the new and now without learning from the past, from the work that’s gone before. That’s what makes the Cannes Lions exhibit “The Game Changers” all the more extraordinary, and an absolute must-see.
It traces the turning points that defined the business as we know it today, such as Bill Bernbach’s momentous “Think Small” campaign for Volkswagen. His restructuring of the creative world so writers and art directors worked as teams. His work was a celebration of good taste, good art and good writing.
As you wander through the exhibit, you are led through such iconic campaigns as “Got milk?” Apple’s “Think Different," Levi’s 501 shrink-to-fit jeans, Coke’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” It lands with Old Spice, Dove’s Evolution of Beauty and Red Bull’s Stratos jump. It explains why each of these particular campaigns was a “Game Changer” in its time, tracking how we’ve evolved from newspaper ads, to online, branded content and mobile. It’s a compact but exceptional show.
It reminds us to take a moment to a look backwards. You just might see the future.
This article originally appear on Applied Arts